Minister for Telecom & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Centre absolutely respects the right to freedom of speech and expression on social media and has no intention of curbing it.

Blaming the UPA Government for including draconian provisions under Section 66A of the IT Act, the Minister said, “There can be no parallel of our stand on this matter with that of the previous UPA regime. We have in writing confirmed that we stand for freedom of speech and expression, while the previous UPA Government tried to make this law an instrument to curb dissent, satire and anything else which did not suit it.”

He said the Union Government welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision on striking down the controversial law. “When the UPA Government came out with draconian provisions under 66A, BJP firmly opposed it and said that ‘66 is unacceptable in current form’. BJP resolutely stood up against the censorship and blocking on social media done by the UPA Government.”

“We will have to understand that we cannot set a different standard of public morality for speech & expression in cyberspace from speech in other mediums and in the public domain,” he added.

He said that during the course of oral submissions in the court, it was categorically pointed out that the Central government shares the anxiety that expressions like “grossly offensive” etc. may be abused at some local level.

Activists, who fighting for freedom of speech on the internet, said the current government could have taken the decision to scrap the draconian provisions.